Jimenez caps fine year for spain

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The Independent Online

A fantastic year for Spanish golf was given added gloss today when Miguel Angel Jimenez won the coveted Volvo Masters title in thrilling style.

A fantastic year for Spanish golf was given added gloss today when Miguel Angel Jimenez won the coveted Volvo Masters title in thrilling style.

The Ferrari-owning 35-year-old, who admits "I like speed", came racing through with a closing 65 to capture the £166,000 crown at Montecastillo near Jerez.

Jimenez's victory, by two strokes from overnight leader Retief Goosen, Dubliner Padraig Harrington and German Bernhard Langer, follows Jose Maria Olazabal's triumph in the US Masters and Sergio Garcia's arrival as a world star.

The three of them also combined to give Spain their first-ever success in the Alfred Dunhill Cup at St Andrews three weeks ago.

Jimenez, four behind Goosen at the start of the day, birdied four of the last seven holes to finish on the 19-under-par total of 269 and so consign Goosen and Harrington to their fifth runners-up places of the season.

It also killed off Harrington's hopes of ending Colin Montgomerie's six-year reign as European number one as he had to win to stay in the race.

With Open champion Paul Lawrie failing to win as well - he was 10th - the only three players who can catch Montgomerie at next week's American Express world championship are 19-year-old Garcia, Lee Westwood and Goosen.

Garcia continued his fabulous rookie season by sharing fifth spot with defending champion Darren Clarke and now moves back ahead of Westwood (only 30th on eight under) in second place.

With Montgomerie joint 16th the gap between him and Garcia is £410,000 - huge, but not enough yet with over £600,000 on offer to the winner at Valderrama.

In fact, it means that if Garcia or Westwood win next Sunday Montgomerie will probably have to finish second to stretch his reign to a magnificent seven years. If Goosen wins, the Scot may need eighth place.

Jimenez, who captured the Turespana Masters in his home town Malaga in March, was hugged by his four-year-old son Miguel Angel after sinking the winning putt.

He said: "I feel a great satisfaction at being the first Spaniard to win the Volvo Masters. It makes me feel very proud.

"Also winning here with all my friends and family and half of Churriana, the village where I was born, makes me feel very happy.

"This has been the best year of my career."

He made his Ryder Cup debut in Boston and, unlike fellow rookies Andrew Coltart, Jean Van de Velde and Jarmo Sandelin, was used in all five series by captain Mark James, winning once and halving twice.

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